Currently this index contains 151 series summaries
"19 Nocturne Boulevard is an anthology series—half hour stories, ranging from Horror to Sci-Fi, from Fantasy to Dark Social Commentary and from Humor to Nothing Funny about it... Since its debut in October of 2008, 19Noc has come out twice monthly (with bonus episodes!) ever since. An episode of 19Noc, "The Outpost", won the 2008 Mark Time gold award for best science fiction audio drama!" --- from 19 Nocturne Boulevard
Most scripts were written by the very talented Julie Hoverson and include original works along with occasional adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft, Saki, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Robert Sheckley, Edgar Allan Poe, Susan Glaspell, William Hope Hodgson, Steve Wilson, M.R. James, and Fritz Leiber. Acting is variable, ranging from adequate to very good. Music, sound effects, and audio quality are all excellent. Podcasts and downloads available.
[Edit: Julie Hoverson also won a Mark Time award in 2009 for her episode "The Rookie". And currently her episode "Idiot Box" is a finalist at the German audio drama festival Hoerspielsommer Leipziger. Winners will be announced in late July!
A twenty-six-episode block of programming cut out of Columbia Workshop especially for Norman Corwin to develop as he liked. Corwin, born in 1910, was one of the giants of radio in the 30s and 40s. He was a writer, producer, and director, known for his cutting-edge, thought-provoking plays. See also Columbia Presents Corwin.
"Corwin's extraordinary range of topics over the 26 By Corwin run spanned comedy to variety to science fiction. And as with most of Corwin's most ambitious productions, the underlying musical accompaniment to Corwin's pieces were key elements to the atmosphere and gravitas associated with the dramatic—or fanciful—arcs of Corwin's scripts." --- from Digital Deli Too.
The first adult, science fiction series to reach mass distribution (juvenile Sci-Fi had been around since Buck Rogers in 1932 and Beyond Tomorrow beat 2000 Plus to the airwaves by a month, but aired only 3 episodes). 2000 Plus ran for almost 2 years, and aired nearly 100 episodes, but fewer than 20 still exist. Stories were penned by the staff. Many of the actors would later work on Dimension X and X Minus One.
Produced by Yuri Rasovsky at the Hollywood Theater of the Ear as part of an NPR millennial celebration. This anthology of Sci-Fi dramas featured Harlan Ellison as host and several renowned actors in the title roles. Episodes varied in length from 3 minutes to almost an hour. 26 episodes were aired with multiple stories per episode, bringing the total story count to 49.
"Drawing on the unique personal histories of its distinguished membership of explorers, scientists and world travellers, the Adventurers' Club of Chicago presents a new kind of radio program dramatizing the exploits of men whose journeys to far places have made news down the years. The program known as 'The Adventurers' Club' can be heard every Saturday morning at 10.30.
The Adventurers' club was formed by a group of kindred spirits who followed the star of adventure all over the world; men who have been far off the beaten path; restless souls who travel to out-of-the-way places, usually seeking to accomplish something worth while for the betterment of mankind--but something that must be accomplished through hazardous undertaking.
The club's sole purpose was, and is, to afford a meeting place for the men of the world who have this spark. Neither affluence nor friendship is sufficient to gain a man entrance to its exclusive membership. Every member has had an adventure, most of which surpass in actual fact the most lurid situations encountered in melodramatic fiction." --- January 16, 1947 edition of the Cedar Rapids Tribune, quoted from Digital Deli Too.
More adventure tales by Carlton E. Morse [NBC Mystery Serial; I Love a Mystery; I Love Adventure]. The entire series consisted of eight, multi-part stories—with three to ten episodes per story. Very good audio quality. All of the ten-part scripts were recycled from NBC Mystery Serial, and of the three-part scrips, two were original and two were recycled from I Love a Mystery.
Alien voices was a collaborative effort between Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy [Spock] and John de Lancie [Q], and writer-producer Nat Segaloff. They produced five classic science fiction stories, semi-dramatized, at just under 2 hours in length each. Stories were chosen from the works of H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In addition, they created two humorous sketches titled "Spock vs. Q" and "Spock vs. Q: The Sequel".
A science fiction serial based on an orbiting space station called Starlab. 30 episodes were produced covering 19 individual plotlines. Written by Lee Hansen and Ron Thompson, with various co-writers, including J. Michael Stracynski [Babylon 5]. Music by Jim Kirk.
A 15-minute serial. Some sources indicate a single 26-episode series. Others report a second, 74-episode series. The series closely followed developments in the weekly comic strip. Produced by Himan Brown [Inner Sanctum, CBS Radio Mystery Theater, General Mills Radio Adventure Theater, and many others.]
"These thrilling adventures come to you as they are pictured each Sunday in the Comic Weekly, the worlds' greatest pictorial supplement of humour and adventure. The Comic Weekly, now printed in thirty-two tabloid-sized pages—each page in full four colours—is distributed everywhere as an integral part of your Hearst Sunday newspaper." --- from episode #1
Internationally famous athlete, Flash Gordon, and his sweetheart, Dale Arden, are kidnapped by the mad scientist, Professor Zarkov. Professor Zarkov bundles them into his experimental rocket ship and all three hurtle through space and crash land on a new planet which is heading on a collision course with Earth. Moments before the spaceship crashes, Flash leaps clear and lands on his feet, uninjured. Flash and Dale are captured by local soldiers and taken to the throne room of Ming the Merciless—Emperor of Mongo and Supreme Ruler of the Universe. To counter Flash's defiance, Ming the Merciless throws Flash into an arena where he is expected to battle the Monkey Men, but, fearing Flash's victory, Ming orders his soldiers to vaporize Flash with their ray guns instead. In the resulting confusion Flash is rescued by the beautiful Princess Aura who demands his undying love. If not, she promises, his sweetheart will die. [At this point the plot takes a slight turn toward the improbable.]
The rest of the series involves the adventures of Flash, Dale, and Dr Zarkov as they foment rebellion against the Empire and improbably escape from one predicament after another.
A Horror anthology similar to Suspense—early episodes utilize the same opening bell and the same announcer inflection—except that Appointment with Fear focused on Horror, while Suspense included Adventure and Sci-Fi tales.
Produced by the BBC, Appointment with Fear was actually ten separate series broadcast over a period of twelve years. Sixty-five episodes were produced, but only four survive at the BBC archive (though there seem to be some circulating recordings from a 1974 rebroadcast). Valentine Dyall, as "The Man in Black", introduced each episode and commented afterwards (except for series two, when he was replaced by his father, Franklin Dyall.)
Many of the scripts were written by John Dickson Carr, but the series also included adaptations of stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson and W.W. Jacobs.
See also The Man in Black and Fear on 4.
Arch Oboler is perhaps best known for his Horror stories. The series presents a more dramatic side of Mr Oboler: cautionary tales, philosophical studies, psychological studies, realism, war propaganda... even fantasy and humour. About half of the plays produced are still available. Some episodes aired as double-features, some, triple-features. Arch Oboler's Plays aired on NBC, which at the time was looking for a series to rival the innovative programming of CBS's Columbia Workshop. Oboler was so successful that many performers asked him to write stories specifically for them. After a year the series acquired a network sponsor and changed its name to Everyman's Theater.
See also Lights Out!, Arch Oboler's Plays, Everyman's Theater, The Devil and Mr O.
"Since 1984, the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company has been performing, recording, and broadcasting dramatic audio—fully dramatized, fully sound-scaped audio drama—far beyond the readings and audio books you can find in every bookstore. We like to think that what we do is classic old-time radio, as it would sound with today's technology and dramatic techniques." --- from Atlanta Radio Theatre Company
ARTC offers adaptations of many classic authors including Robert Heinlein, H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, and Robert Louis Stevenson, but also offers original stories by talented emerging writers. CDs are $12 each (proceeds go back into creating more shows), but many older, live shows are available free as podcasts.
Acting is variable, ranging from adequate to very good. Music, sound effects, and audio quality are all excellent.
"There's no question that Author's Playhouse was an ambitious undertaking from the get-go. The production promised a new adaptation of original short stories every week. Drawing from some of the finest authors throughout history as well as a long list of new authors and their stories, Author's Playhouse more than met its charter in bringing fresh dramatizations to Radio week after week for over four years." --- from Digital Deli Too
The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is obviously not a series, but a network. More than that, it is the network in Great Britain. They have been producing radio drama since the late 1920s. I include it as its own category because they produced so many short productions of one hour or less, that in many ways it seems like an anthology. Some individual BBC-produced series (the Man in Black, Fear on 4, Journey into Space, etc.) have their own entries.
A replacement series for SF 68, this South African horror anthology was far more successful than its predecessor, running from 1968 through 1970. Its success may have been due in part to producer Michael McCabe—who also produced SF 68—honing his talents to a higher degree. Little else is known about it, including the number of shows produced. As far as I can discover, there were at least 70 episodes, all in half-hour format.
This brief series is not notable for much, except that it was the first attempt to air a science fiction anthology on American radio, beating 2000 Plus to the airwaves by a month. An audition and three episodes were produced, but it is unclear if they ever acutally aired. If they did, they probably aired on the Mutual network sometime between August 1949 and April of 1950 before being pulled. Apparently CBS briefly considered picking it up, but that never happened. Included adaptations from Robert Heinlein, Graham Doar, and Theodore Sturgeon.
Black Chapel was a 15-minute Horror Anthology produced between 1937 and 1939. Ted Osbourne played the role of the unbalanced host who introduced each episode. In fact, he played all the characters (using character voices) and accompanied himself on organ! The style of the show is somewhat similar to The Hermit's Cave. Only two episodes survive out of over 100 produced.
Stories from outstanding, established authors—many of whom were not generally known for writing in the horror genre. The series was the result of a successful collaboration between Erik Bauersfeld (producer, director, adaptor, actor) and John Whiting (Production Director), both at KPFA, Berkeley. The series ran irregularly from 1963 to 1970 and comprised 38 episodes. Remarkably high production quality, chilling tales, and excellent pacing. There is not much action here: no chase scenes, no explosions, no screams. This is a cerebral series where mood is created through language, pacing, dialogue, and subtle music. In 1985, 16 of these stories were exhumed from a dank and dusty grave, given a new intro and effects by James McKee and Ken Heller, and then rebroadcast as Tales from the Shadows on KCRW, Santa Monica.
A straightforward crime drama with no supernatural, horror, or Sci-Fi elements—the only reason I include it on this site is because it starred Orson Welles as both the host and the narrator, and he's one of my favourites. This is one of several true crime dramas which draw from the annals of Scotland Yard [see also: Whitehall 1212]. Written by Ira Marion (though some scripts were possibly written by Orson Welles); produced by Harry Alan Towers [see also: The Lives of Harry Lime]. Plot summaries can be found at the website OTR Plot Summaries.
Produced at Brigham Young University in the early 80s, this series boasts an impressive depth of sound, effective musical cues, and no one less than Paul Frees as narrator. Some marketed editions include snippets of an interview with Bradbury following the show. All episodes were half-hour format.
The first Science Fiction program on radio. At least three different series were made, one by CBS and two by Mutual. Mainly a 15-minute serial, but 30-minute episodes also aired.
The character of Anthony Rogers was introduced in the novella Armageddon 2419 A.D., which was written by Philip Francis Nowlan and published in Amazing Stories, August 1928. The character was later renamed Buck Rogers when the story was adapted for a comic strip run.
Buck Rogers, veteran of the Great War [WWI], investigates reports of unusual phenomena in abandoned coal mines near Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania. Exposed to radioactive gas, he enters a type of suspended animation and wakes up 428 years later, in 2419. The world has... changed. In the intervening years, an extended war between the U.S. and Europe brought both to their knees... the "Russian Soviets" joined forces with the Mongolians to conquer Europe... Mongolia then defeated Russia and conquered the U.S. and Canada... the people of the U.S. started to rebel. And, now, Buck Rogers wakes up and leads the rebellion.
A short-run series created by John Dickson Carr. The series was inspired by a Carr script for Suspense, also titled "Cabin B-13". Only three of the original twenty-four episodes survive.
"Don't let the title throw you off. The only thing this program has to do with the sea is the fact that the narrator is a ship's doctor, Dr Fabian, an urbane, kindly, professionally English character who is steeped in wisdom, and Sir Cedric Hardwicke, and whose job, of course gets him into some romantic and out-of-the-way spots." --- Oakland Tribune, July 23, 1948, quoted from Digital Deli Too.
Caltex Theatre was an Australian Drama Anthology which aired from 1948 to 1960. It was a continuation of the Macquarie Radio Theatre (which began in 1941, with a name change in 1948). One-hour episodes aired weekly on Sunday evening at 8:00 PM. The cast included Richard Davies, Lyndall Barbour, Sheila Sewell, Alan White, Patricia Kennedy, and Keith Eden. At least 490 episodes were aired, but I know of only 6 that survive, one of which was an adaptation of the movie Forbidden Planet.
An hour-long Drama Anthology which was a continuation of The Mercury Theatre on the Air, renamed when the show obtained a sponsor. After obtaining a sponsor, the series continued for another two years as an hour-long program, and then a third year as a half-hour show. 48 of 88 shows still survive.
A post-apocalyptic science fiction serial based on the book by Walter M. Miller, Jr. The book, in turn, is based on three of Miller's short stories that were published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The story is set in a Catholic monastery after the collapse of civilization. The monks have taken it upon themselves to collect and preserve as much human knowledge as they can, in preparation for the rebirth of civilization.
Hugo award for best novel in 1961. Produced in 1980 by WHA Radio and Wisconsin Public Radio in association with NPR. With Carol Cowan (narrator), Herb Hartig (announcer), John Reeves (adaptor), Greg Fish & Bob Budny (music), Marv Nunn (engineering, mixing), Vic Marsh (special effects), Karl Schmidt (director), Marv Nunn & Karl Schmidt (production). [Note: all names spelled by ear.]
A juvenile serial, in the same vein as Space Patrol and Tom Corbett. Only about a half dozen episodes survive.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Surprisingly, I have a much harder time finding any material from the CBC than from the BBC. Rumour has it they never let any of their shows' copyrights expire and they ruthlessly pursue violators. Some of the longer series (e.g., The Vanishing Point, Nightfall, Theatre 10.30, CBC Mystery Theatre) have their own entries, but as with the BBC, the CBC produced many 30 min episodes much like an anthology. Those shows are included under CBC.
I know very little about this series. I have 16 shows dated between 1966 and 1968, all of which are classic supernatural mysteries. I do not know how many episodes were produced or how many still exist. It is possible that this was a sub-series within the Theatre 10.30 programme. At least two circulating episodes, "The Monkey's Paw" and "The Ghost Town Hermit" identify themselves as belonging to both Theatre 10.30 and Mystery Theatre.
Hosted by the late E.G. Marshall, this series ran daily from 1974 to 1982. Series creator and producer Himan Brown oversaw scripts and, though the daily format restricted the depth of sound effects, each show averaged 45 minutes. The writing was intelligent and the stories were thought-provoking. CBSRMT presented a bit of everything—science fiction, historical drama, ghost stories, horror—but the majority of episodes were murder mysteries, often with a supernatural bent.
Not to be confused with the CBS Radio Mystery Theater! Radio Workshop was designed to experiment with untried and innovative approaches to telling their stories. From early 1956 to mid '57, the series produced all manner of stories and indulged in some very unusual technical devices.
"Sponsored by Carling Black Label Beer, this series examined man's early ventures into space. The space race of the 1950's and 1960's spawned this series, especially the Apollo missions to the moon in the late 1960's. The series was narrated by Donald Monat as the character Charles B Ryan and was broadcast on Springbok Radio on Monday evenings at 18H30. The episodes were written by June Dixon and Hal Orlandini (never credited), recorded at the AFS Studios in Johannesburg, and produced by Donald Monat. A total of 62 episodes were broadcast, including a live broadcast of the Apollo 11 moon landing, courtesy of The Voice of America Radio Broadcast and repeat broadcasts of some of the earlier episodes in the 1970's. Many of the stories were dramatizations of true events and also included futuristic tales of space exploration of the future.
The first episode was broadcast on Tuesday, 19 June 1969 and continued until Tuesday 12 October 1970. The series was sponsored throughout by the same sponsor who after the completion of the series sponsored the replacement series "Carling Country".
Actors who appeared in the series, included, Donald Monat (Narrator as Charles B. Ryan), Clive Parnell, Michael Mayer, Brian O'Shaugnessy, Hal Orlandini, Lynda Stuart, Diane Appleby, Diane Wilson, James White, Gabriel Bayman, Stuart Brown, Denis Smith, Tony Jay, George Korelin, Kerry Jordan and Elaine Lee." --- Radio Archive
The preceding information might originally have come from Springbok Radio, but their site is currently being redecorated. I have eight episodes, all of which are Sci-Fi. The audio quality ranges form poor to mediocre.
"Chatterbox Audio Theater was created in 2007 by four friends with a lot of creativity and ambition but very little money. Based in Memphis, TN, with additional productions created in Kansas City, MO, Chatterbox creates fully sound-scaped audio works for free streaming or download. With rare exceptions, Chatterbox shows are recorded live, with manual sound effects and as little post-production editing as possible." --- from Chatterbox Audio Theater
Acting in the series is variable, ranging from adequate to very good. Music, sound effects, and audio quality are all excellent. Podcasts and downloads available. Education Guides are available for six of the shows: "Bartleby the Scrivener", "Feathertop", "Markheim", "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", "Rip Van Winkle", and "The Yellow Wallpaper". These guides are roughly 16 pages long, contain sections titled: About Audio Theater; About [this story]; Summary; About the Author; Cast and Crew; Characters; Themes, Motifs, and Symbols; Entry Points for Teachers; Curriculum Connections; Shorter Activities; Longer Activities; and Vocabulary. Quite interesting. Never really thought about using audio theatre in the classroom... but why not?
Not to be confused with Spine Chillers. A series of 4 spine chilling science fiction tales from BBC Radio 4. Excellent acting and sound quality. Classic stories.
The first episode was a dramatization of John W. Campbell's classic "Who Goes There" which was later made into the movie The Thing. Other episodes included: "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" by Harlan Ellison, "Delta Sly Honey" by Lucius Shepard, and "Corona" by Samuel R. Delaney.
"Welcome to Claybourne, the small, scenic township in the far north of New Zealand's North Island. It's a friendly little town—home to a pub, a general store, a service station and, up on the hill, the southernmost communication satellite station of American communication giant, Koestler Industries. Thompson is an American holidaying in New Zealand after his breakup nearly led to a breakdown. He receives a message from his employers that there's a problem at the station up north, and that since he's there, he should check it out. The problem is 'a problem' doesn't even begin to describe it. Never mind the tapu... the mysterious death rate... rumours of dragons... conspiracy theories about the global military industrial complex... and the old guy with the gun. The town is the future site of Maoriworld—the tourism drawcard that'll put this place on the map (investment enquiries welcomed). Just don't ask too many questions." --- from the Internet Archive
Written by Jim McLarty and William Davis; Music by Victoria Kelly and Joost Langeveld; Produced by Andrew Dubber and Belinda Todd. Winner of "Best Dramatic Production of the Year" in the 1999 at the New Zealand Radio Awards.
Acting in the series is variable, ranging from adequate to very good. Music, sound effects, and audio quality are all excellent. Some of the scenes are "noisy" which makes the Kiwi and Maori accents difficult to understand, but overall the series is quite good. The entire series is available from the Internet Archive.
An Espionage drama written by Wyllis Cooper based on the book, Cloak and Dagger: The Secret Story of the O.S.S. by Corey Ford and Alistair McBain, but drawn from the annals of the O.S.S. during WWII. [The "O.S.S." was the U.S. Office of Secret Services which was a forerunner to the CIA.] Excellent acting; brisk scripts.
Other Cooper series include: Empire Builders; The Witching Hour; Lights Out!; Quiet, Please; Whitehall 1212.
A supernatural crime drama which used a clock (Father Time) as the personification of fate. The series was produced in the U.S., and later re-dramatized in Australia with many of the same scripts but a new cast and new music. William Conrad and Charles Webster starred as the clock in the U.S.; Harp McQuire starred in the Australian version. Many Australian shows are incorrectly listed as belonging to the earlier U.S. series.
Another effort by legendary writer/director Norman Corwin, combining some previously produced material with some new material. See also 26 by Corwin, and Columbia Workshop.
"Rarely preachy, with the possible exception of topics in which Corwin himself was most personally invested, Corwin invariably first wove an amazingly detailed tapestry for each of his productions, then using that vivid tapestry as a backdrop, overlaid his key points and critiques against that backdrop. The technique provided the listener both a visual and aural image against which to compare and contrast the points Corwin attempted to highlight, dramatize, or resolve." --- from Digital Deli Too.
A long-running series (1936-47) of more than 300 episodes, this show's run is even more remarkable considering its unorthodox methods of storytelling. The label workshop denoted an experimental approach to radio drama—such as the use of music to replace voices, narration in song and verse, and canted viewpoints that stretched the listener's sensibilities. Most of the shows were in standard half-hour format, but a few were broadcast as a multi-part series and there were occasional hour-long (Hassan, Murder in the Cathedral, John Brown's Body) and even a couple of 90-minute-long (Richard III, Peer Gynt) episodes during the series' run.
Much about this series is unknown: the number of runs, the number of episodes, the starting and ending dates, the actors, authors, and writers. What is known is that the series was a horror and crime anthology similar in scope and tone to Inner Sanctum. The sound quality of the episodes I have is poor, which detracts from an otherwise very worthwhile series. I'll keep looking for better quality episodes.
"The Creaking Door was South African Radio's attempt to create a compelling program of highly suspenseful, dramatic thrillers with a supernatural bent for their sponsor, State Express Cigarettes. Some commentators insist it was conceived as a spin-off of the already successful Inner Sanctum episodes that had been syndicated for broadcast in Australia and South Africa during the 1950s. Given the format, one can see the inference, but in fact The Creaking Door stands on its own as a unique, well-produced, engaging supernatural thriller series on its own merit." --- from Digital Deli Too.
Creeps by Night was produced in 1944 by the Blue Network after it split from the National Broadcasting Company. The series was promoted as a new psychological drama series featuring top-notch writers and top-notch actors. Those plans don't seem to have panned out as the show was cancelled after only six months. Most of the surviving shows dealt with murder, but a few dealt with the supernatural or the occult. At least 23 episodes were produced—the first 12 with Boris Karloff and the remainder with an unidentified actor referred to only as "Dr X." Only about seven of the episodes survive.
Crisis was broadcast from 1973 through 1977 out of Seattle, a mixed bag of Sci-Fi, Horror, Suspense and Crime Drama from producer/director/writer (and host) Jim French. Well over a hundred shows were made, but just how many fit into the scope of this site is still being researched. Production values were generally high, and stories often strove for a twist ending. All shows were half-hour format.
"The adventures follow Johnny Robbins and Suzanne 'Sue' Grange as they embark as eventual passengers on the whaling bark, the Poll Parrot. Based out of New Bedford Harbor, New Bedford, Massachusetts, the port was a major center of the American whaling industry since Revolutionary War days. The Poll Parrot was commanded by its new skipper, Captain Roy Dalton [performed by twenty-three year old Marvin Miller of 'The Millionaire' fame] and his new First Mate—and best friend—George Wainright. Actor Marvin Miller also voiced the squawks of 'Poll Parrot' throughout the series. The three macro-adventures of the series comprised thirteen, 15-minute episodes each, centering around whaling adventures, a search for buried treasure, the dangers of storms at sea, and mutiny. All in all, three varieties of serial adventure, each scripted to both educate and entertain children and their families at the dinner hour each evening." --- from Digital Deli Too.
A short-run series created by the writing team of Robert A. Arthur and David Kogan [The Mysterious Traveler, The Strange Dr Weird, The Sealed Book, The Teller of Tales]. Only one episode survives, but it has fairly good sound quality. Judging from the titles of the lost shows, it appears this series dealt primarily with murder, but with an emphasis on the supernatural. Many of the scripts were later re-used in Arthur & Kogan's other series.
A six-part BBC mini-series adapted for radio in 1969 from a television series of the same name. Both the television series and the radio adaptation were by Robert Barr. No copies of the television mini-series are known to exist, but the radio series is in very good condition. A torpedo is unexpectedly found on Benbecula, an island in the Outer Hebrides. Further investigation reveals a spy kit... and some sheet music.
The hauntingly beautiful theme music is an air called "Dr Mackay's Farewell to Creagorry". It was composed by Iain MacLachlan (1927-1995).
A short-run series out of Oklahoma City, which spanned the gamut of stories from murder tales to Sci-Fi and horror. The show had a tie-in with Movie Radio Guide, which printed the stories along with illustrations. "The writer, Scott Bishop, was certainly a capable author. He wrote all the stories for this series and The Strange Dr Karnac. He also contributed scripts to The Mysterious Traveler and The Sealed Book." --- from Radio Horror Hosts.
A horror series of a different kind. There is no supernatural here—just the inner workings of the human mind. In each episode you are inside the mind of a killer thinking about murder. Planning, imagining, calculating. It is a little disturbing. Stories were written by Larry Marcus and Robert Light.
"Over the minds of mortal men come many shadows... shadows of greed and hate, jealousy and fear. Darkness is the absence of Light... so in the sudden shadows which fog the minds of men and women are to be found the strange impulses which urge them on, to their venture in the Dark." --- from the intro.
A product of KLON in Long Beach, California, broadcast in 1979. Uncertain how many shows were made, but eight are in circulation—all in standard half-hour format. Sound quality of the tapes I have is quite muffled. Stories were written by Ken Girard (?) and Roger Rittman (?), and featured a ghoulish punster named Kord (?)... who sounded like a Raymond Edward Johnson (Inner Sanctum) knockoff, but without the comic timing.
Another supernatural anthology from the CBC. The ten episodes in the series aired on Friday nights at 10:00 PM throughout the summer of 2005. Two of the episodes previously aired as part of the Winter's Tales series in 2004, but the other eight were original productions. Audio quality and technical production, excellent.
In 1970, twenty-five of Arch Oboler's Lights Out! episodes (along with one episode from Arch Oboler's Plays) were syndicated, given new names, and then rebroadcast as episodes of The Devil and Mr O. These episodes generally have better sound quality than the older versions and are sometimes mislabelled as being from the original series.
See also Lights Out!, Arch Oboler's Plays, Everyman's Theater, The Devil and Mr O.
This anthology was actually part of The Hermit's Cave franchise. 37 episodes were aired, but only one survives. It's a nice touch, having the host of the series being the Devil himself! Pretty scary, that. Since so many of the titles of both The Hermit's Cave and The Devil's Scrapbook are lost, I can't tell if these series shared scripts and recordings or if they were produced separately.
"The devil we know is better than the one we don't know! At least that has been handed down to us, perhaps old Nick started the rumour himself. However, the Lucifer we meet in this series is a jolly gent any of us might meet with Aunt Lucy over a cup of tea or a spot of thallium. Who knows that we haven't invited him right inside? Not you, of course, nor I, but those ordinary weak people who yield so easily to temptation. Oh the fools! Right from the first, Mr Nicholas Lucifer carries on the age old job to find work for idle hands, and some of the work—well! There's hell to pay, and is paid naturally. With manner most persuasive, he points his finger and—Wham!. Anything can happen and frequently does. His search for clients is not always successful. Some of his potential customers are strong and noble, like us, and thwart his wicked machination, but there is always the weak sister to keep his interest alive. And their reward? A personally escorted elevator journey to the Pit, and their just desserts." --- from Australian Old Time Radio
A series of morality plays in which the personification of Fate, Herbert Lytton, manipulates events which then force people to make life-altering decisions. Fate reads from his diary to provide story background and to establish the pending conflict. Then we witness the choices which are made and Fate records the results. It's a disturbing little series.
"The characters in the stories always seem to make the wrong choice, and thereby assure their ultimate demise. Perhaps it's a hit and run driver, or a jealous husband who decides to eliminate his competition, or a man who murders his way to the top of the company. Whatever the scheme, you can rest assured that the cold blooded culprit will dish it out in full heaping servings before he is forced to get a taste of his own medicine. And that's the part of this series that is somewhat disturbing. The formula is basically that we hate to see someone be cruel to someone else, but love to see that kind of person harshly punished. So in effect, we're listening to the show because we want to see someone suffer, just so long as we can justify that pain by saying they had it coming to them. If you think about it, it's not really that different from watching gladiators being fed to the lions for amusement. The biggest difference is that the victims are actors pretending to die. The crowd is still cheering for blood, but instead of applause, the radio arena survives on Nielsen ratings. After two thousand years of social evolution, only the technology has changed. The human fascination with death (especially of others) has not." --- from Radio Horror Hosts.
The first Sci-Fi anthology series to utilize published stories from established science fiction authors (2000 Plus drew its material from stories penned by its own staff writers), which gave the series an instant status of credibility to fans of the genre. It had an extremely low budget, but was the darling of the NBC staff, whose passion made the show perhaps the best Sci-Fi radio anthology of the 50s. Despite their effort, the series only lasted a year-and-a-half, and totalled a mere 46 unique stories. It was later revived and became the more successful X Minus One.
As enduring as Star Trek, the British TV series ran for 3 decades, with numerous incarnations of the famous Doctor. The BBC produced—as far as I can figure—about half a dozen radio dramas based on the series, starring whatever actor was the current Doctor, from 1976 up to 1999. There are also well over a hundred shows made by various independent producers licensed by the BBC.
A Drama anthology which aired over National Public Radio (NPR) stations in the U.S. One of the longest running radio drama series on NPR. Content was mixed between adaptations and new productions. I have recordings from 1977 to 1982, but the series may have run from 1972 into the 90s. It approached radio drama as an art form with scripts written by such leading playwrights as Edward Albee, Arthur Kopit, Archibald MacLeish and David Mamet.
Little is known about this series. It probably originated in Australia for South African distribution. OTRR dates this show from the early 1940s, but that seems unlikely—the sound quality is too good. [Update: I have found a 15-minute episode dated 1941, but the closing commercial mentions missles that were first produced in 1959 (Navy Bullpup/Air Force Hound Dog).] The Wikipedia entry for Springbok Radio lists this series as having run from 1963-1971. That seems more likely. The episodes I have are dated 1969. Perhaps there were two series with the same name? Perhaps the 1940s episodes were cleaned up and rebroadcast? Perhaps one series was Australian and the other South African? I don't know. At least 51 episodes exist, some of which are reproductions of old Arch Oboler scripts from Lights Out! The show was engaging and well produced. I wouldn't be surprised if several hundred episodes were aired.
"Time... the silent herald of life and death, success or failure... the unseen force that measures Man's destiny, reaching its most fateful moment as it slowly strikes the Eleventh Hour." --- from the intro
[Update from OTR Trade Forum: "Major. I had a look at the episodes you made available on Multiply. The ones you list were the ones made in Australia [AU] by Artransa. 52 Episodes were made, of which 51 were broadcast in SA by Springbok Radio in 1965. When the Australian series ended, Springbok Radio continued the series with SA-made episodes produced at the CRC Studios in Johannesburg. The series ended in 1971. A total of 312 were made here [South Africa] of which 277 have been identified and archived here."
The previous post points to an arrchive where the 277 shows were stored [ZA]. That page now states: "Please note that no further updates of material will be made available here. The material that was available here has been removed. In future, newly restored material will only be available via Springbok Radio Preservation Society of South Africa Website. The material can be found in the 'Listen To / Luister Na' section of the site and will not be available as a download, but as streaming audio file through Windows Media Player. In order to make the stream easier, the bitrate on the material will be lowered slightly. This way, the people that really want to hear the material can do so. Downloads have been stopped because of misuse by certain pople and to stop the unauthorized broadcast of material. This site sadly became a milking cow and no longer will be. Your comment and suggestions are always welcome. Regards, The Springbok Preservation Society of South Africa."
An series of adventure tales intended to drum up business for the Great Northern railway between Chicago and Seattle. Weak on plot, but with nice sound effects and music. Wyllis Cooper wrote at least two of the episodes.
"Empire Builders, sponsored by the Great Northern railway (whose premier limited, which ran from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest gave the program its name), first aired in 1928 and left the air at the end of its 1931 season (an apparent victim of the depression). With a large cast of actors, a 23-piece orchestra, seven sound effects technicians (five of whom worked in the studio, two of whom worked outside on the Merchandise Mart roof) and a studio audience, Empire Builders epitomized the elaborate productions of network radio's early days." --- from The Empire Builders
"THE EMPIRE BUILDERS 1929-1931
"Cooper works on this pioneering NBC dramatic anthology series sponsored by the Great Northern Railroad. The series runs from January 1929 to 06-22-31, originally broadcast from New York and later from Chicago. Edward Hale Bierstadt writes some of the earliest episodes which focus on historical dramas of the American northwest. More contemporary comedies and melodramas are also featured. Actor Harvey Hays (who would later spell his name 'Hayes') plays the folksy but mysterious host, known variously as 'The Old Timer' and 'The Old Pioneer.'
"Though others are involved, Cooper contributes writing and directing to the series. Credited as 'W. O. Cooper, a Chicago writer' he writes a 02-10-30 episode set in the copper mines under Butte, Montana and 'made a special trip to the Butte mines to secure material for this drama' which included a climax that 'is believed to be the most difficult bit of radio melodrama thus far attempted' according to publicity.
"The 04-16-31 episode, described as 'A railroad melodrama appropriate to St. Patrick's day' about 'the fighting spirit of the Irish' is also credited to 'W. O. Cooper.' He almost certainly writes the 11-10-30 Armistice Day episode, a copy of which exists—one of the oldest surviving recordings of a network radio drama." --- from Quietly Yours.
Hosted and starring (for the most part) William Conrad, a voice almost as synonymous with OTR as Orson Welles. A spinoff series from Suspense, Escape ran on CBS from 1947 to 1954, broadcasting a wide range of stories—science fiction, horror, murder mysteries—though it seemed to display a fondness for adventure tales set in the tropics or on the high seas. With the exception of "Earth Abides", all episodes were half-hour format.
Arch Oboler is perhaps best known for his Horror stories. Arch Oboler's Plays presents a more dramatic side of Mr Oboler: cautionary tales, philosophical studies, psychological studies, realism, war propaganda... even fantasy and humour. About half of the plays produced are still available. Some episodes aired as double-features, some, triple-features. Arch Oboler's Plays aired on NBC, which at the time was looking for a series to rival the innovative programming of CBS's Columbia Workshop. Oboler was so successful that many performers asked him to write stories specifically for them. After a year the series acquired a network sponsor and changed its name to Everyman's Theater.
See also Lights Out!, Arch Oboler's Plays, Everyman's Theater, The Devil and Mr O.
A short-lived series, hosted by the influential editor, John W. Campbell Jr., of Astounding Science Fiction magazine which ran on the Mutual Broadcasting System from late 1957 to mid 1958. Despite the apparent link to Astounding, the magazine was not sponsoring the series. Campbell merely acted as host, commentator, and, perhaps, script editor and adaptor. Each episode featured musings by Campbell on the cultural, psychological, or sociological implications of that night's theme. These musings were often as engaging as the story itself!
A strong religious element coloured this long-running series broadcast between 1947 and 1956. It crossed several genres, and included only a few Sci-Fi stories. All episodes were standard half-hour format.
This series produced shows from all genres, pulling its ideas from the personal favourites of various celebrities. Classic stories! Unfortunately, the shows were only half-hour format... which is too short to dramatize a full-length novel. Some of the shows, however, are dramatized from short stories or novellas. These work well in this format. About 18 episodes could be called Sci-Fi or Horror, including adaptations of Frankenstein, The Monkey's Paw, The Time Machine, and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.
Fear on 4 spanned six separate series over 11 years, becoming shorter by the series, with twelve episodes in the first series and only one (plus some repeats) in the last. The episodes were introduced by Edward De Souza as The Man in Black—a host-character created for Suspense in the United States, but almost immediately borrowed for the BBC series Appointment with Fear which featured Valentine Dyall. Throughout the series, the BBC set very high standards for production quality. Pacing, acting, direction, and incidental music were all excellent.
A repertory company consisting of four rising film stars: Robert Cummings, Rosalind Russell, Fred MacMurray, and Loretta Young, dramatized short stories published in Cosmopolitan magazine.
Two short science fiction series produced by WMUK Special Projects (Western Michigan University) which used local actors and production facilities. Most of the episodes were adapted by Profesor Eli Segal from X Minus One and Dimension X scripts with places and locations updated accordingly. The series used the original X Minus One opening and closing.
Also known as the CBS Radio Adventure Theater, this show was a companion series to the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, and likewise produced by Himan Brown. Unlike its famous counterpart, however, it was primarily aimed at children, and failed to enjoy the same degree of success. Forty-six 45-min. episodes were aired in 1977. Hosted by Tom Bosley.
George Edwards Productions was an Australian radio production company that produced over 50,000 episodes between 1933 and 1953. The core members of the production company were: actor George Edwards (1886-1953), actress Nell Stirling (1909-1951), and writer Maurice Francis. Many other performers came and went (and script writers, too), but these three held the dramatic group, and the resulting production company, together for over 15 years (1933-1948).
Mr Edwards, known as "The Man with a Thousand Voices", was a talented actor and mimic, but his career really didn't take off until he started working with Miss Stirling in 1933. Together, they were offered the chance to produce a radio drama for 70 pounds consideration. Mr Edwards was reluctant, but Nell jumped at the chance. To save money, Mr Edwards played many of the roles himself and they hired an aspiring script writer, Maurice Francis, to adapt the popular play Ghost Train for radio. The production was very well received and they were on their way!
Included "The Adventures of Marco Polo", "Afloat with Henry Morgan", "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", "Frankenstein", "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", "Man in the Iron Mask", "The Corsican Brothers", and "Sons of Porthos" among many, many others.
"Attracted to silly characters, fun language and convoluted plots The Great Northern Audio Theatre has been around since 1995 when Jerry Stearns and Brian Price combined their various audio theater skills to write and produce Tumbleweed Roundup. We call what we produce contemporary audio theater. It used to be called radio drama, but it's not on the radio as much as it once was. The big contracts and the huge grants have disappeared, if they ever were. But the Internet and audiobooks have arisen. There are lots of places to tell a good story in sound. It's a medium that is full of visuals, full of Imagination, and full of fun. We aren't going to rekindle Old Time Radio. We're going to build and add on it with new stories, new technology, and a sense of audio adventure." --- from Great Northern Audio Theatre
Originally a local series out of Utah that found its way on to the airwaves sporadically from 1947 to 1952, this anthology was picked up for national syndication by the Mutual network and broadcast from mid-52 through mid-53. Written and directed by Richard Thorne, a prolific and talented writer and producer, this series is often overlooked, even by fans of OTR. It is unfortunate, since it provides some very unique and dramatic material; the acting in particular was superb. Early on, the series concentrated on murder mysteries, but later shows were devoted to horror and some Sci-Fi. Sadly, not all episodes have survived—only about 40 of perhaps over a hundred shows still exist. All episodes were standard half-hour format.
Another Drama Anthology pulling stories from established authors. The writing, acting, and music were top-notch, but the shows were 30-minutes long and the audio quality (at least in the episodes I have been able to find) is sub-par.
Haunted, sometimes referred to as Haunted: Tales of the Supernatural, was an anthology of supernatural tales which was broadcast over the BBC World Service as three separate series in 1979, 1982, and 1984. Some of the episodes were repeated among the series. According to Diversity Website there were 34 episodes, with 26 unique recordings. At least 12 of these are in circulation. Audio quality and production values are good.
Not to be confused with The Haunting Hour. I know practically nothing about this series. It might be Australian. There was at least one episode: written by Warren Glasser, narrated by Lloyd Lamble, and produced by Donovan Joyce Productions. It was called "The Werewolf". My copy of this episode is dated 2002, but that seems extremely unlikely; it sounds like it was produced in the 1950s.
Not to be confused with The Haunted Hour. Horror anthology on NBC which included supernatural, mystery, and detective dramas in its collection. Stories were written by Max Erlich and Edwin Wolfe and directed by Edwin Wolfe. Excellent audio quality.
The Hermit was a depraved, cackling old geezer who seemed to delight in the gruesome, the grisly, the ghoulish, and the ghastly—it's little wonder he was forced to go off and live in a cave. There he dwelt from 1940 to 1943 or '44, inviting the unwary in to hear his tales of the dark and the macabre. The stories often ended badly for the protagonists—much to the frenetic glee of our mentally unbalanced host. It's uncertain how many episodes were produced (one episode, 'The Professor's Elixir', mentions it as #404!) but, as far as I have been able to discover, only about 30 survive. The series began as a 15-minute show, later evolving into a half-hour format.
A Drama Anthology which aired from 1950 to 1953, in three separate runs, over CBS, ABC, and NBC. Star-studded cast of... well, Hollywood Stars. Excellent writing, solid performances, great audio quality. Some of the players included:
James Stewart, Ronald Reagan, Richard Widmark, Mercedes McCambridge, Barbara Stanwyck, William Holden, Joan Crawford, Vincent Price, Edmund Gwenn, David Niven, Angela Lansbury, Dana Andrews, Robert Young, Mickey Rooney, Deborah Kerr, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Cesar Romero, Tyrone Power, Jane Wyman, Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, Charleton Heston, Lurene Tuttle, William Conrad, and Paul Frees.
Hollywood Theater of the Ear was one of the many projects that Yuri Rasovsky worked on during his long career. It was set up in 1993 as a non-profit corporation dedicated "exclusively to the production, encouragement and appreciation of world-class audio drama for descriminating audiences." Hollywood Theater of the Ear dramatized at least eleven stories. The results varied in length from 1 CD to 5 CDs. These were professional-quality sound recordings with all-star casts and excellent acting, music, and sound effects. Many are still available for purchase through Downpour (formerly, Blackstone).
Productions included: 2000x, Black Mask Audio Magazine, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Craven Street, The Dybbuk, The Maltese Falcon, Murder at Woodside Village, The Sherlock Homes Theatre, The Oresteia, Saint Joan, Sweeney Todd and the String of Pearls, The Mark of Zorro.
See also: National Radio Theater of Chicago
A Mystery/Adventure serial written by Carlton Morse [NBC Mystery Serial; I Love a Mystery; Adventures by Morse] which carries on where I Love a Mystery left off.
"After the war, it [I Love a Mystery] came back under another name , I Love Adventure, but had continuity problems. The three men were separated during the war, and Jack was working for a covert agency to preserve world peace. Suddenly, they were all back together again working for the agency, with no explanation given (Dunning, 338). It returned under its old name for the remainder of the run." --- from Radio Horror Hosts
A Mystery/Adventure serial written by Carlton Morse [NBC Mystery Serial; I Love Adventure; Adventures by Morse] that aired in 10-20 half-hour segments per story. It's hard to tell, since so many episodes have been lost and I haven't listened to the series. Was later revived as a 30-minute anthology called I Love Adventure.
"I Love A Mystery didn't really have a horror host, but it certainly had a horror theme. Vampires, werewolves, and truly gruesome forms of murder pervaded the series. The announcer, Dresser Dahlstead (and others), had no persona, but would appear to deliver recaps. Since ILAM had a regular troop of characters who made up the A-1 Detective series, the audience already had a group of friends that they looked forward to hearing each week. The gang of three was loosely based on The Three Musketeers, only set in modern times and solving mysteries instead of sword fighting. There was Jack Packard, the smart guy who was weary of women. There was Doc Long, who provided comic relief with his Texas drawl and who was always falling for the dames. And there was Reggie York, the English chap who sounded all proper, but loved to fight." --- from Radio Horror Hosts
"Icebox Radio Theater has been producing new stories on audio since 2004, running the gamut from comedy to drama, from a possible future to the frightening shadows, with full cast audio, sound effects and music. This is The Northland, the great Canadian Shield stretching from the Great Lakes in the East to the start of the Great Prairies in the West. Special people have always lived here. And they've always told stories of the land, the people, and the legends of this unique corner of the world." --- from Icebox Radio Theater
Acting in the series is variable, ranging from adequate to very good. Music, sound effects, and audio quality are all excellent. Podcasts are available at their official site.
The number of independent audio production companies which produce only a few series seems to be growing. Many of the newer ones are more along the lines of audio books than radio drama. This section covers those that are most appropriate to this site.
One of the most famous radio series ever done, Inner Sanctum dealt mostly with murder mysteries, but occasionally ventured into the horror genre as well. Although it remains uncertain just how many episodes were made, there appear to have been more than 140, all in half-hour format. A separate series of the same name was produced in Australia around 1942.
Raymond Edward Johnson played the host until 1945. The series was directed by Himan Brown [Flash Gordon, CBS Radio Mystery Theater, General Mills Radio Adventure Theater, and many more].
A CBC comedy serial spoof of space operas, this series followed the adventures of a bumbling hero and an assorted cast of misfits, including a self-important wisecracking computer, a psychic and a trigger-happy ex-soldier, as they ran afoul of cliché space villains intent on destroying Earth. The show's distinctive theme music was "Aldeberan" by the Canadian progressive-rock band FM. The show ran for two seasons.
Perhaps the most successful and popular series to come out of the UK. The four separate serials followed the exploits of astronauts exploring the Moon and Mars who uncover an alien plot to conquer Earth. The show was enough of a hit to inspire fan clubs and retrospective documentaries. The first serial ("Journey to the Moon"/"Operation Luna") was broadcast in 1953, but the magnetic tapes were erased shortly thereafter. It was re-recorded in 1958. The second serial ("The Red Planet") aired in 1954. The third series ("The World in Peril") aired in 1955. A ninety-minute fourth "series" ("Return to Mars") aired in 1981.
"It was the last radio programme in the UK to attract a bigger evening audience than television." --- BBC Audiobooks
A re-telling of the classic John Wyndham tale
A dramatization of Victor Hugo's heartbreaking tale of poverty and injustice. The story follows the lives and interactions of several characters, most notably ex-convict Jean Valjean, from 1815 to 1832. Highly recommended!
"'So long as these problems are not solved... so long as ignorance and poverty remain on Earth... these words cannot be useless.' These words set forth the soul and spirit of one of the world's great literary masterpieces, Les Misérables. Out of the depth of his pity for suffering mankind, Victor Hugo drew a compelling story. One that will live so long as bewildered humanity shall continue to grope for the light." --- from the intro to episode #1
Orson Welles, adapted the story specifically for the radio medium. He also produced, directed, served as the narrator, and played the part of Jean Valjean. He was 22 years old at the time!
With Orson Welles [Jean Valjean], Martin Gabel [Inspector Javert], Virginia Nicholson Welles [older Cosette], Gwen Davies [young Cosette], Alice Frost [Fantine], William Johnstone [Marius], and in other roles, Frank Readick, Ray Collins, Agnes Moorehead, and Everett Sloane. Many of these players would perform with Welles again as part of The Mercury Theatre on the Air and The Campbell Playhouse.
Lights Out! was one of the most famous—and infamous—series of all time. Even those not interested in OTR have generally heard of Lights Out! Created by Wyllis Cooper (of Quiet, Please) in 1934, and passed on to Arch Oboler in 1936, the series went through several incarnations and reincarnations throughout its long life, lasting until 1947.
The exact number of episodes is a nebulous issue, since Oboler frequently renamed episodes several times over for rebroadcast, expanded the length of some of Cooper's shows, and freely moved shows back and forth between Lights Out! and his other projects with re-edited intros, making it very difficult to identify episode origins with any degree of certainty. To make matters worse, many shows have been lost over the years.
See also Lights Out!, Arch Oboler's Plays, Everyman's Theater, The Devil and Mr O.
Orson Welles plays a lovable, globe-trotting con-man in a prequel to the movie The Third Man. "That was the shot that killed Harry Lime. He died in a sewer beneath Vienna, as those of you know who saw the movie The Third Man. Yes, that was the end of Harry Lime... but it was not the beginning. Harry Lime had many lives... and I can recount all of them. How do I know? Very simple. Because my name is Harry Lime." --- from the intro.
While certainly a scoundrel—Lime has no trouble lying, cheating and stealing—he generally targets those for a con who are more villainous than himself. Wonderful zither music by Anton Karas. Produced by Harry Alan Towers (aka: Peter Welbeck) and syndicated world-wide. Stories were written by Orson Welles, based on the character created by Graham Greene. Plot summaries can be found at the website [OTR Plot Summaries].
Comprising over 900 shows over the course of more than 20 years (1934-55), this series was one the most successful ever. Much of its success could be attributed to its most famous host, Cecil B. DeMille, who attracted top rank screen actors to portray their roles in radio versions of popular movies, mostly dramas. During the first two years the series dramatized Broadway plays, before shifting its focus to movies.
Little is known or survives of this series; it is unusual in that it is a production of Armed Forces Radio and employed servicemen as actors. Broadcasts ran from November 1961 to January 1962. There were an unknown number of episodes, all in half-hour format.
"Magic Island is the exciting story of mystery, adventure and romance in the South Seas, and portrays the adventures of Mrs Gregory, Captain Tex Bradford and Jerry, in their search for Mrs Gregory's daughter, Joan. They find her on a mysterious island in the South Pacific. The island is dominated by mad scientists who hope to conquer the world through their uncanny knowledge of science and its appliance to mechanics. The exciting trials and tribulations of the characters in their attempt to escape the Magic Island are thrillingly told in this unusual serial story." --- Panama City News-Herald, October 19th, 1940, as quoted at Digital Deli Too.
In 1978 and 1979, independent record label Maiden Music released (3) LPs with (6) science fiction stories. The stories were written by Michael Armstrong and produced by B.E. O'Keef with music by Max Early. For a long time, these stories were listed on the BBC page, but have now been moved to the Miscellaneous page because they were not actually commissioned by, or produced for, the BBC. These LPs occasionally show up in shops in London, on eBay, or on retrobloke (an London site which sells used records). I've even seen cassettes for sale. And I believe one of the cassettes may be borrowed from the National Library of Australia.
The series began as a murder mystery serial and quickly gravitated toward espionage as its main focus. It appears there were six separate runs, but most of the surviving episodes date from the CBS 1947-48 run, or the NBC 1950-52 run. [Digital Deli Too]. The series starred Herbert Marshall as X, a globe-trotting agent for The Bureau—neither the agency nor the country of origin is explicitly identified in the series.
"The man called X: he is the man who crosses the ocean as readily as you and I cross town; he is the man who travels today as you and I will travel tomorrow; he is the man who fights today's war in his unique fashion so that tomorrow's peace will make the world a neighbourhood for all of us; he is the man called X." --- from the intro.
A very brief series of eight episodes, none of which exist anymore. Produced by the BBC, the format was very similar to Appointment with Fear, in which each episode was introduced and commented afterwards by "The Man in Black", a somewhat sinister character whom you wouldn't want your daughter to marry. Valentine Dyall again played "The Man in Black".
in 2009 the BBC started producing new runs of The Man in Black with Mark Gatiss as the host. So far, four series have been produced, each with 5 episodes.
Series 1: "The Tower", "Project Purple" by Richard Vincent, "The White Hare" by Lucy Gough, "Hide And Seek", and "Bombers' Moon".
Series 2: "Phish Phood" by Kim Newman, "Death Us Do Part" by Mike Bartlett, "Flesh" by Tom Morton-Smith, "Angels In Disguise" by Nicola Jones, and "The Old Road" by Penelope Skinner.
Series 3: "Connect" by Lucy Moore, "The Printed Name" by Nicholas Pierpan, "Lights Out" by Christopher Golden and Amber Benson, "Uncle Williams House" by Alison Falconer, and "Perfect Home" by Nick Warburton.
Series 4: "Containment" by David Lemon, "The Punt" by Christina Balit, "The Beaten Track" by Dawn King, "Reunion" by Janice Okoh, and "The New Boy" by Matthew Wilkie.
Sound quality and acting are superb in all the new series.
See also Appointment with Fear and Fear on 4.
The Mercury Theatre was a theatrical production company founded in 1937 by Orson Welles (21 y/o) and John Houseman (35 y/o). After a series of successful stage productions, Welles was offered the chance to direct a weekly, hour-long radio production. The Mercury Theatre morphed into The Mercury Theatre on the Air and broadcast an adaptation of Dracula as its first episode. Throughout the series and later, throughout The Campbell Playhouse, Welles specifically chose stories that were suitable for the Radio medium. 18 of the 22 original shows still survive. The troupe returned in 1946 as The Mercury Summer Theatre of the Air for a 15-episode summer run of half-hour shows.
Not really audio drama in the strict sense of the definition, this 1970s series out of WHA Radio in Madison, Wisconsin featured weekly readings of science fiction stories by some of the genre's best writers. Nevertheless, since many of the readings were enhanced by music, periodic sound cues, and the occasional character voice, I consider them 'semi-dramatized', and therefore meriting inclusion on this site. Besides, the music was so well written, and the performance of Michael Hanson, the reader, so evocative of each story's mood, that the result was often better than most fully dramatized productions of the period.
Update: According to Michael Hanson there were 169 half-hour shows which presented 188 short stories from 135 different authors. The series ran from April of 1975 until early 1984. Mr Hanson personally selected the music from a huge range of classical, jazz, pop, rock, electronic, etc., recordings (LP's by the way). All the editing was done via the now antiquated "cut-and-splice" method. He was backed by some marvellously adept technicians who were of enormous assistance. They are always identified at the end of each broadcast.
Mystery Theatre was primarily a murder mystery anthology but did air episodes with supernatural elements. It aired on different networks with different names. Mollé Mystery Theatre (aka NBC Mystery Theatre, NBC, 1943-1948), CBS Mystery Theatre (CBS, 1948-1951), Inspector Hearthstone of The Death Squad (CBS, 1951-1952).
Not much is known about this serial. It was possibly produced in South Africa. It aired sometime around 1935-1940. It included twenty-six 15-minute episodes. It is not known if the series is complete... there may have been episodes that aired before or after the existing twenty-six episodes. The series tells of an expedition into Africa to search for the city of Atlantis. Mystery. Ritual. Cannibals. A talking, shrunken head. Witchcraft. Treachery.
"This is the story of a little band of explorers led by Professor Anton Edwards—a giant of a man, the keynote of whose life is scientific discovery. Two hundred miles from the banks of the upper Congo River in the jungles of French Equatorial Africa, Professor Edwards has made his camp awaiting the coming of his assistant before travelling further into the hinter lands." --- from episode #1.
This series was primarily a crime-oriented anthology with occasional forays into the supernatural. It was well-produced and, since the entire series was available by transcription, the surviving recordings have excellent audio quality. Similar in style to The Strange Dr Weird and The Whisperer.
A re-named, continuation of the Sears Radio Theater. Mostly rebroadcasts, but with a short season of new dramas late in 1980. At least 103 episodes survive.
I know very little about this series. I stumbled across it while looking for a copy of Arthur Conan Doyle's "The New Catacomb". It sounds like it might have been a BBC production which rebroadcast earlier versions of radio drama... but I can't be sure. At least 20 episodes exist including stories by: John Dickson Carr, Belloc Lowndes, Philip Levene, Robert Louis Stevenson, M.R. James, Jerome K. Jerome, J.B. Priestley, John Collier, W.W. Jacobs, Arthur Conan Doyel, and C.S. Forester.
Update: according to the Diversity website this series consisted of 26 half-hour episodes that were either recorded for the BBC Transcription service or taken by them from the BBC main archive and distributed world-wide under the series title "Mysterious Circumstances".
For nine years (1943-1952) listeners were invited to ride a passenger train in the company of a mysterious stranger (Maurice Tarplin), who always had a dark and uncanny tale for a willing ear. Created by the writing team of Robert A. Arthur and David Kogan, the series was popular enough to engender two 'spin-off' series—The Sealed Book and The Strange Dr Weird.
Both spin-offs produced no originals, only remakes of MT stories (along with some remakes of Dark Destiny). The Sealed Book tended to deal with murder as its primary subject, while The Strange Dr Weird (also hosted by Tarplin) leaned more toward the macabre. The Mysterious Traveler boasted about 400 episodes of which, sadly, only about 71 have survived. That being the case, I have decided only to list the shows known to still exist.
An NBC summer series from 1947 which presented "strange and unusual stories" from "dark and compelling masterpieces culled from the four corners of world literature". Narrated by Henry Morgan (later known as Harry Morgan—of Dragnet and M*A*S*H) and starring Peter Lorre. Not to be confused with a detective program from 1945 with the same title, sponsor and time slot.
"The National Radio Theater of Chicago was an anthology radio drama series that began as a local program in 1973, but always had national aspirations (and was listed in writers' market-guides in the 1970s). Episodes consisted of original radio plays, adaptations of fiction and stage plays, and radio plays from Europe and the Far East. Its period of greatest national exposure was from 1981–1983, though it had already received a Peabody Award by 1978 and another in 1981. It was produced by a small independent production company of the same name, founded in 1972 by producer-director Yuri Rasovsky and disbanded in 1987." --- wikipedia
Many dramatizations are still available for purchase through Downpour (formerly, Blackstone)..
See also: Hollywood Theater of the Ear
A 5-part wartime series produced to scare Canadians into buying war bonds, this program presented the nightmarish vision of the effects of a Nazi invasion and conquest of Canada. It drew its inspiration from a Nazi agent who travelled across the country in the 30's and sent a report of Canada's strengths, weaknesses, and resources back to his superiors in Berlin. The series employed the likes of Helen Hayes, Vincent Price, and even Orson Welles. Each episode introduced different families living in various parts of the country prior to the arrival of those nasty Nazis and then showed what tragedies befell them during the occupation. Melodramatic, grisly, often racist and very dark, but interesting as a window on wartime attitudes and mass media propaganda.
No known recordings or scripts survive. NBC Mystery Serial produced, as you might expect, serialized mysteries. One of the four authors engaged was the the prolific Carlton Morse [I Love a Mystery; I Love Adventure; Adventures by Morse]. He wrote (8) 10-part mysteries which aired in half-hour format. Most of these scripts were later used for I Love a Mystery or Adventures by Morse.
Titles included "The Cross-Eyed Parrot", "The Dragon in the Sky", "The City of the Dead", "Captain Post, Crime Specialist", "The Return of Captain Post", "The Game Called Murder", "Dead Men Prowl", and "The Witch of Endor".
An anthology series from 1952-53 which crossed genres to find its material.
NBC Presents: Best Plays was "a series of hour-length dramas based on famous theatrical books begun by the late Burns Mantle, now edited by the distinguished drama critic of the New York Daily News, John Chapman." --- from the intro.
An anthology series from 1951-52 which crossed genres to find its material. Many classic horror tales found their way onto this series, as well as dramas and comedies. Authors included:
Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Shirley Jackson, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Grahame Greene, John Cheever, Ray Bradbury, Anton Chekhov, James Thurber, John Collier, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, and Stephen Vincent Benét.
In 1980, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation launched what was one of the most disturbing radio series ever produced—Nightfall. The show ignited complaints from many listeners that it was too frightening, prompting some stations to drop the series from their programming. Nevertheless, Nightfall spanned 99 episodes (plus 2 re-broadcasts of BBC productions) over the course of 3 years, disrupting the sleep of as many listeners as dared tune in. Unless otherwise noted, all episodes were half-hour format.
An obscure series hosted by Peter Lorre, broadcast from the fall of 1953 to the fall of 1954. Although on air for a year, only a few episodes seem to have survived. All are in standard half hour format.
"Jealousy, hatred, loneliness, revenge—any emotion that could be carried too far was fair game. Everyone's favorite plot gimmick—amnesia—was also a topic for the show. These various mental issues were interwoven with some life or death situation, with murder being the usual consequence. Mix them all together with some fancy sounding medical mumbo-jumbo (shaken, not stirred), and you get sophisticated sounding narrations like this:
'Avarice. Greed. These are the slow poisons that saturate the most brilliant mind, until it becomes blank and spongy, a cavern of foul and noxious thoughts, hidden away from the light of the sun. A secret place where no longer live the clean structure of love or honour or decency. As the twisting roots of destruction dig deeper and stronger, interlocking like the fibres of some malignant cancer...'
Now you don't have to be a brain surgeon to know that everything inside the skull is "hidden away from the light of the sun." But whoever wrote the introductions certainly had a flare for making the mind seem like an especially dark and sinister place. A person can obsess about anything, and some of those things can even be good (like loving someone, or helping society), but positive obsessions need not apply to this series. The only good obsession here is one that helps the ratings, and that needs violence and/or suspense." --- Radio Horror Hosts
A brief anthology series out of the 1980s produced by Omni magazine, with a limited run of only 4 programs and released on cassette. A great pity the series is so minimal, as its production values were every bit on par with Bradbury 13—not surprising since both series were overseen by Mike McDonough.
Not to be confused with the Australian series of the same name. Not much is known about this series. I have one episode, "Dead End", which is 30-minutes long and is the story about a small time crook who has run out of options. I'd call it a fictional, non-supernatural thriller. Was this standard for the series? I don't know.
This episode was written by Larry Marcus (Dark Fantasy), directed by William T. Johnson, and starred Elliot Lewis (George), Jeanette Nolan (Ruth), Lois Corbett (Helen), John McIntire (inspector), and David Ellis (truck driver). It aired over ABC and was well produced.
Not to be confused with the U.S. series of the same name. Produced by Rick Rientis in Australia beginning in 1947. Fifty-two episodes were produced; perhaps a dozen still survive. The scriptwriter was Isherwood William. Actors included Lloyd Berrell, Peter Dunstan, Max Osbiston, Madge Thomas, and Lou Vernon. --- from Australian Old Time Radio
These episodes were 10-15 minutes long and were bizarre, but allegedly true, stories which typically had a supernatural element. "Out of the night! Out of the night comes the whispering voice of the night wind to tell another story of man's battle with fate. The true story today... [insert plot summary here]. Unbelievable, but True!" --- from the intro
Intolerably cheesy kids' space opera serial of 15-minute episodes, cheaply produced with appropriately unbearable organ accompaniment.
A Horror anthology from the BBC, broadcast in three separate series. Hosted by Vincent Price, some of the episodes feature Price playing himself.
A serial anthology of 4-minute episodes out of South Africa about a scientist and his companions who encounter various alien menaces throughout the Galaxy. Unknown how many episodes were produced, but there were at least 130.
Created in 1947 when Willis Cooper, the creative force behind Lights Out, embarked on a new series with a new approach—every episode would star Ernest Chappell, who would introduce the story with a narration which attempted to 'converse' with the audience. In some cases, the narrative exposition alone comprised the bulk of the show. Sound effects were severely limited, but the stories were all Cooper originals, sufficient reason alone to listen in.
If you're looking for strong plot structure, however, you won't find it here. According to Cooper: "I don't believe in too strong a story line because it's apt to be too hard for the listener to keep in mind... The charm in radio consists of good characterization. Plot should consist of a twist rather than a formalized structure."
A Drama Anthology which aired on NBC from mid-1948 to early 1950 and covered a wide variety of genres, including about half a dozen tales of the fantastic. Original stories as well as classic stories were dramatized. Two series, plus a summer run, generated an estimated 65 broadcasts, of which 62 survive. All episodes were in the standard half-hour format.
A relatively modern effort, this series was produced out of Commerce, Texas, and broadcast on National Public Radio in 1989-90. The producers drew their inspiration from some of the best stories from some of the best science fiction authors of the 20th century, including Ray Bradbury, Roger Zelazny, Henry Kuttner, and Poul Anderson. There is an impressive array of sound, and while the acting was occasionally amateurish, at least the stories were—for the most part—ones which no one else had thought to produce before.
A short-run series derived from stories previously told in The Mysterious Traveler. Its sister show, The Strange Dr Weird, derived its stories from MT's supernatural mysteries, while The Sealed Book favoured murder mysteries. But while Dr Weird was condensed to 15-minute episodes, The Sealed Book retained a 30-minute format. Scripts were prepared by the writing team of Robert A. Arthur and David Kogan [Dark Destiny, The Mysterious Traveler, The Strange Dr Weird, The Teller of Tales].
Helmed by ex-Suspense producer Elliot Lewis and broadcast weekdays from early 1979 to the fall of that year, this program offered shows from several genres, with a different theme tied to each day of the week. The few Sci-Fi oriented stories appeared on Adventure Fridays, hosted by Richard Widmark (later in the series, by Howard Duff). 129 episodes were produced, but only a few fit the parameters of this site. The series was picked up by the Mutual Broadcasting System and rebroadcast in 1980 as The Mutual Radio Theater.
An online venture of the Sci-Fi Channel cable television station, produced solely for broadcast over the internet. With major backing, SET was able to draw A-list actors and writers, and to maintain a consistently high level of quality audio engineering to bring their efforts to life. Shows varied in style, subject matter and length, with something for everyone. Sadly, it was not enough, and SET is no more.
A short-lived series from—appropriately enough—1968, out of South Africa, produced and directed by the dean of radio drama in that country, Michael McCabe. SF 68 featured stories from established science fiction writers, drawing inspiration from the likes of Bradbury, Ellison, and Leinster. Most of the copies which have reached North America are somewhat scratchy and garbled (at least the ones I've been able to hear), which is unfortunate, since the shows were well made and the stories interesting. The series was dropped in favour of a mystery/horror series called Beyond Midnight, whose run was far more successful.
"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? [evil laughter] The Shadow knows." --- from the intro.
Crime fighter anthology with a prevailing horror theme. The role of "The Shadow" changed over time. Initially, The Shadow was simply the narrator, but later he played an active role in bringing criminals to justice. He had "the power to cloud men's minds so they could not see him." James LaCurto, Frank Readick, Orson Welles, Bill Johnstone, Bret Morrison, John Archer, and Steve Courtleigh all played the voice of the shadow at one time or another. Plot summaries can be found at the website "OTR Plot Summaries".[Plot Summaries for A-L]. [Plot Summaries for M-Z].
See also: The Whistler, and The Whisperer.
Part mysticism, part Science Fiction, part crime story, this series was based on the novels by Sax Rohmer. It aired as a 15-minute serial. At least five different radio adaptions were made, beginning in 1927. The most ambitious was the 1932 version, but nearly all recordings date from the 1939 version. A bit racist by today's standards, it was quite popular at the time it was produced.
Fu Manchu was an evil scientific genius set on destroying Western civilization and remaking it in the image of the glorious East. He was a master of deception, disguises, and hypnotism. He used a magic drug, Elixir Vitae, to retain his youth and strength, despite his advanced age. He was opposed by MI-6, the British secret service. More information on Fu Manchu from Martin Grams, Jr.
"Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, a close-shaven skull, and long, magnetic eyes of the true cat-green. Invest him with all the cruel cunning of an entire Eastern race, accumulated in one giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and present, with all the resources, if you will, of a wealthy government—which, however, already has denied all knowledge of his existence. Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of Dr Fu-Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man." --- Nayland Smith to Dr Petrie, The Insidious Dr Fu Manchu.
A short-lived series of readings by Nelson Olmsted, primarily focusing on horror. The shows were in half-hour format, though often included two stories per episode. Excellent audio quality. Minimalist production with background music, but no acting.
A highly successful franchise, Space Patrol was a retro juvenile serial featuring the adventures of the steely-jawed redoubtable Commander Buzz Corry and his wet-behind-the-ears sidekick Cadet Happy as they combat various 30th-century baddies across the Solar System and beyond. Originally a television series, the same actors reprised their roles for the radio version, which ran concurrently with the TV show from the fall of 1950 to the spring of 1955.
The outfits and sets on the TV show were vintage cheeseball Sci-Fi, at best laughable by even fifties' standards; however, freed of the sorry visuals, the radio incarnation comes across much better, even managing to introduce some rather sophisticated scientific concepts such as black holes, inertia-based space flight, anti-matter, and engineered space habitats. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of this series are the hilarious commercials for Chex cereal and various Space Patrol toys. All shows were in standard half-hour format.
The adventures of orphaned, 15-year old Speed Gibson, the youngest member of the International Secret Police, as he battles the world-wide Octopus criminal organization. Speed works closely with fellow agents Clint Barlow [his uncle] and Barney Dunlap [his uncle's sidekick]. Speed is described as "the typical American boy, interested in short-wave radio, aviation and, most of all, the International Secret Police". "Speed looks on crime as the height of weakness, failure and cowardice, and has determined to do his part to end it. His admiration for his uncle and his work drives Speed on to study everything useful to a member of the secret police. For he is determined to join that organization and work with Clint." --- from the intro to episode #1.
Not to be confused with Chillers. A series of spine chilling science fiction tales from BBC Radio 4. Excellent acting and sound quality. Classic stories.
The first episode was a dramatization of "Figures" by Colin Haydn Evans. Other episodes included: "Mrs M" by David Campton, "Origami" by Jill Hyem, "Dracula in White" by Peter Redgrove, and "Witch Water Green" by Don Webb.
Horror tales written by Robert Bloch. 15-minutes per episode. Very little is known about this series.
"Bloch prepared 39 short stories with accompanying radio-play scripts, Johnny Neblett formed his first production company to produce it, and Bloch's friend Howard Keegan--director of many of the Lights Out productions--signed on to direct the program. Neblett and Berle Adams persuaded Weird Tales Magazine to provide a tie-in to the magazine and promoted the new program as Weird Tales' Stay Tuned for Terror, so as to leverage Bloch's considerable fame and popular success with that print publication." --- from Digital Deli Too.
A short series of allegedly true, 15-minute stories of the supernatural. Only nine episodes are known to have survived. The narrator was Walter Gibson, creator of The Shadow.
A spinoff series of The Mysterious Traveler, our good doctor spun new spins on stories from its parent series, condensed to 15-minutes from the original half-hour. Its sister show, The Sealed Book, derived its stories from MT's murder mysteries, while Dr Weird lived up to his name and dealt with the supernatural. Maurice Tarplin, the host of MT, also emceed this show.
A short-run series created by the writing team of Robert A. Arthur and David Kogan [Dark Destiny, The Mysterious Traveler, The Sealed Book, The Teller of Tales].
A series of 13 historical dramas which attempt to answer the question: What If? What if Julius Caesar had married Cleopatra? What if the French had won the Battle of Quebec? What if Hamilton had killed Burr? Rigorously backed by research from noted historians, these tales are quite thought provoking and very well produced.
One of the longest running and most successful radio series ever produced, employed some of Hollywood's foremost actors to bring its riveting stories to life. Extremely well produced and directed, Suspense represents the pinnacle of the medium. Over 900 episodes were broadcast between 1942 and 1962. The majority were crime dramas, but the producers often ventured into the Science Fiction, Adventure, and Horror genres as well. Most shows were 30 min, but some were one-hour long.
"Chet Chetter's Tales from the Morgue is a series of short stories as told by an old obliging morgue attendant, licensed embalmer and resident story teller named Chet Chetter to a passing stranger of the night played by you the listener. The stories Chet relates to us are all quite fanciful. They deal with topics that would be classified supernatural and science fiction. They border on outrageous but that is how they are meant to be. Roughly half of the shows feature a nice, likeable, rural southern manure hauler by the name of Elmer Korn who always finds himself involved in some inane predicament. The creators of the series themselves admit the show is rather off-beat but, you will find, not without it's own charm which lies within the humorous writing and the recurring characters." --- Radio Horror Hosts
The series was created by producer Winnie Waldron, with musical composition and some acting provided by Winifred Phillips. Ten, 30-minute episodes were broadcast on NPR in 1992 as part of NPR Playhouse. In 1996, the series was extended under the Radio Tales moniker.
The acting is stilted; the dialogue, embarrassingly silly. But the audio quality is good. The sound effects and music are very good, but I think they've been used to cover up the weak plotlines and acting. I never really found myself inside the stories. I also found the reverb to be extremely annoying, like everyone was talking inside a tunnel... but maybe that's just my copy?
A radio spin-off of ABC's television show of the same name, this short-lived series lasted only a few months in early 1953, producing a total of 15 shows culled from the pages of Galaxy magazine. Only about a third of the episodes survive, and the few recordings I've heard have been very scratchy, almost inaudible.
Aired on ABC from mid-1964 through mid-1965, this multiple-genre series had a unique, slick Sixties feel to it that illustrates why the demise of Suspense only two years earlier is generally considered to mark the end of the Old Time Radio era. The racy, 'Peter Gunn'-like theme music was hardly standard, the pace of the storytelling was quicker and no attempt was made to attract household names in starring roles. However, given the schedule—shows aired almost daily—the production values remained respectably high. 257 episodes were produced, a few dozen of which fall within the parameters of this site.
I know little of this series, other than it came out of the 1960s, aired at 10.30 PM and was a multi-genre anthology that produced several episodes that could be called Sci-Fi or Horror.
A Drama Anthology which aired from 1945-1953. At least 77 of over 315 episodes survive. The Cast & Crew read like a veritable Who's Who, and the authors represent some of the greatest talent from the 19th and 20th century. Occasionally ventured into Thrillers or Sci-Fi.
A dramatic program created especially for Sir Laurence Olivier and his wife Vivien Leigh featuring some of the classics of world literature. Sir Laurence hosted and starred in many of the shows, but was unable to complete the series. He was replaced with Sir Ralph Richardson for the remainder. Excellent audio quality. Harry Alan Towers [The Black Museum, The Lives of Harry Lime] produced and directed the show for his Towers of London company for international syndication, at the time in Europe, South Africa and Australia. The initial U.S. run was on NBC.
I know very little about this series, except that it included: "Mars Is Heaven" by Ray Bradbury and "The Word" by Arch Oboler.
"Think! [repeated quietly and monotonously throughout the intro]. You! Live in a world made by you. A world of fact and fantasy. But where does fact end and fantasy begin? This is a program designed to make you think." --- from the intro.
A collection of six radio plays based on the tales, themes, and ideas of the 19th century writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne, set in the contemporary world of the 1980s and dramatized by Charles Tidler. Titles include: "The Artist of the Beautiful", "Never Marry a Spider", "Rappachini's Daughter", "The Headless Clown", "Deep Desire", and "Strange Child".
I haven't listened to these stories, but Hawthorne's work often dealt with Romanticism tainted by the inherent evil and sin of humanity.
This rockets 'n ray guns kids' show could vie with Planet Man as perhaps the cheesiest space opera in the annals of radio. It shared the same unbearable organ accompaniment and, like its contemporary rival Space Patrol, its presence on the radio was a spin-off from a television series (though IMHO it lagged behind SP in almost every respect). Each story line was presented in two 15-minute episodes.
A very graphic and bloody 15-minute anthology, often with two deaths per episode. Similar to Diary of Fate in that the stories illustrate how Fate takes a hand and controls our lives. The audio quality of this series is... unexpectedly much better than Diary of Fate. Quick, tightly-plotted, suspenseful stories... often with a twisty ending.
This series, created and produced by Bill Lane, included Horror and Sci-Fi, incorporating several 'sub-series' over the course of its long run.
An anthology of supernatural tales from some of the great authors in the genre. It aired from late-1943 to early-1945. The audio quality of the series is quite good, but the acting is inconsistent.
Authors included: Algernon Blackwood, Ambrose Bierce, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Daniel DeFoe, Edgar Allan Poe, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Emily Bronte, George Elliot, Guy de Maupassant, Hans Christian Andersen, Herman Melville, Honore De Balzac, Mary Shelley, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Samuel Johnson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Victor Hugo, Sir Walter Scott, Washington Irving, Wilkie Collins. Not a bad crowd, that.
Largely a straight-forward crime anthology with a minor supernatural component. Often tongue-in-cheek. Philip Galt (the Whisperer, no super-powers) is an attorney who uses his knowledge of law and crime to infiltrate criminal organizations. Stars Carleton Young.
See also: The Shadow, and The Whistler.
Largely a straight-forward crime anthology with a minor supernatural component. In some ways, The Whistler was similar to the series The Shadow—both had omnipotent narrators and similar opening lines—but while the Shadow was also a character who actively pursued criminals, the Whistler was content to observe and comment.
"I am the Whistler and I know many things, for I walk by night. I know many strange tales hidden in the hearts of men and women who have stepped into the shadow. Yes, I know the nameless terrors of which they dare not speak." --- from the intro to episode #1
See also: The Shadow, and The Whisperer.
A straightforward crime drama with no supernatural, horror, or Sci-Fi elements—the only reason I include it on this site is because it was largely written by Wyllis Cooper and he's one of my favourites. This is one of several true crime dramas which draw from the annals of Scotland Yard [see also: The Black Museum]
A seminal series which established the standard of a host-based anthology series, and was the first horror series produced for radio. Exact numbers are difficult to nail down, but there were likely in the neighbourhood of 150 stories produced, some in two or three parts, most of them original to the series.
The series ran 1931-1938 in the U.S. and, with a different cast and production crew, 1938-1943 in Australia. 54 episodes are known to exist—two-thirds of which are from the Australian runs and one-third from the 1934 U.S. run [nightkey].
Created, written and directed by Alonzo Deen Cole, these stories were introduced by 'Old Nancy', a Salem witch who was so ancient she could never remember how old she was: 103 years old one week, 110 the next, and 105 the following. Nancy was played by Adelaide Fitz-Allen until she died in 1935, at the tender young age of 79. Cole tried several replacements without much success. Then one night after the broadcast, at midnight, Cole noticed a 13-year old girl who said she'd come to audition for the part of 'Old Nancy'. Cole laughed and said, "Go ahead!" He was so impressed, however, he hired her on the spot! Her name was Miriam Wolfe.
Very little is known about this series. There are no known recordings or scripts. The series was written by Wyllis Cooper [Lights Out; Quiet, Please; Whitehall 1212] and may have run for as few as seven episodes before being cancelled. It aired as 15-minute episodes.
I know very little about this series. It was broadcast over WPEN radio, Philadelphia, possibly in 1945. At least one, 15-minute episode was produced: "The Graveyard Rats" [note: not "The Graveyard Eats"]. The story was told by a single narrator backed by an enthusiastic organ. The episode was well-produced; I look forward to hearing more from this series.
"With Book and Pipe. [opening organ music rises and fades] Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday at this time, WPEN offers you narrative welcome within the documentary study of the Man with Book and Pipe. Join us as he re-creates in story, the fictional gems of the world told with all their absorbing brilliance of colour... And now we're motioned into the panelled study of our host Francis Polanta (?). Listen, now, to the Man with Book and Pipe." --- from the intro
Hosted by Robert Young and sponsored by the Episcopal Church, these morality plays by Reverend Lawrence Waddy represent a little appreciated niche in radio drama and drive home the point that it is not only what you do, but how you do it that matters in life.
"In the normal course of most any day everyone of us is witness to matters of life and death. The way we involve ourselves in these vital matters makes our own lives worthwhile... or meaningless." --- from the intro
This series of 15-minute adventures derived its material from supposedly true stories. It is told in the format of a meeting at a club of—you guessed it—Adventurers.
"Since 1912, the Adventurers Club has held weekly dinners at which soldiers of fortune from all parts of the world have recounted their experiences, the choicest of these stories will now be told before the microphone by the adventurers themselves, assisted by Columbia artists." --- Indiana Evening Gazette, 1930, quoted from Digital Deli Too.
The above quote was for a radio program called Adventurers Club, not The World Adventurers' Club, but the format may have been similar. As near as I can tell, in the 1930s there were many clubs where 'adventurers' would meet to discuss their adventures, recruit members for expeditions, or find backing for new projects—African safaris, polar-jungle-desert expeditions, mountain climbing, sailing the seven seas. This series seems to have been a dramatization of such stories, presumably true.
X Minus One holds the record for the longest running Sci-Fi radio series ever produced. However, as successful as it was, the popularity of radio drama was on the wane as the juggernaut of television inexorably took over the home. Low budgets and increasingly disinterested sponsors made production difficult, but these adversities were somewhat counterbalanced by a direct tie-in with Galaxy magazine, a popular Sci-Fi digest of the period. Most of the stories were culled directly from the pages of Galaxy, or remakes of stories produced for Dimension X (of which X Minus One was originally a revival series). Many of Sci-Fi's most popular authors got mass exposure through this series, and even today X Minus One is still generally considered a cornerstone of radio drama.
ZBS is a non-profit arts organization that has been producing radio drama since 1970... and they're still going strong! Music, sound effects and technical production are all top-notch.
Stories often had an element of mysticism. Not the 1990s 'New Age' type of spiritualism... more along the lines of the 1960s cosmic consciousness. If you are a hard-nosed realist, these plot elements may annoy you. But if you are the type of person who likes Science Fiction and Fantasy because it challenges your perspectives, if you are the type of person who likes to believe six impossible things before breakfast, then you might get a kick out of these stories.
But even if you can't suspend your disbelief completely, you can still enjoy these stories. The sound effects are mostly recorded on location: India, Sumatra, Bali, Morocco, the Amazon. The acting is good. The music is incredible.
Serials include: "Jack Flanders", "Ruby: The Adventures of a Galactic Gumshoe", "Dinotopia", and many more.
CDs may be purchased at their official website.
The Golden Age of Radio ended in the 50s? Not so. These tightly-paced, suspenseful dramas have outstanding acting, excellent music, and superb sound effects. Rod Serling hosted the series, but it is unclear whether he had any creative control. He did write a few of the scripts.
The series began with each story being told in five, 30-minute episodes, Monday-Friday. Thirteen such stories were told. Then the format changed to a different episode each day of the week, but with the same star playing the lead. An additional 65 stories were told in this format.